As the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to batter the airline industry, Cathay Pacific has reportedly scrapped several of its loss-making routes to the United States and Europe. Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post (SCMP) newspaper reports that the Special Administrative Region-based airline is cutting unprofitable routes as it battles to stay afloat.
Flights from Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) to London Gatwick Airport (LGW) and Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) will be removed. In contrast, flights to London Heathrow Airport (LHR) and New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) will continue. Now rather than flights to two of the above-mentioned city’s there will be just one.
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Seven routes will be scrapped
Flights to Dulles International Airport (IAD) outside Washington D.C. and flights to Brussels Airport (BRU) are also for the chop. The axing of these two routes is of political importance. It now means the Swire Pacific-owned airline no longer flies to the United States capital and the European Union’s de facto capital Brussels.
Along with the destinations above, the oneworld alliance member will also stop flying to Dublin, Seattle, and Male in the Maldives. In an eternal memo that the South China Morning Post says it has seen, Cathay Pacific is calling the removal of the flights a permanent move as all of them were losing money.
Long-haul routes will be the last to recover
However, a source at Cather Pacific did tell the newspaper that while the flights would not return in 2021, they could return when passenger numbers pick up and the airline industry recovers to 2019 levels. Experts who study the airline business predict that global travel will not reach 2019 levels until possibly 2024 and that long-haul routes would be the last to recover.
When asked about the route cuts by the SCMP, a spokesperson for Cathay Pacific said the following:
“As we have previously announced, we expect to operate well under 25 % of 2019 passenger capacity in the first half of 2021 and below 50 % for the entire year.
“After careful consideration, we believe it is unlikely we will operate flight services to these destinations in the near future. We remain in a very dynamic situation, and we will continue to review our flight network.”
A couple of months back, Cathay Pacific CEO Augustus Tang Kin-wing said the restructuring of routes would be a high point on the list along with staffing levels. Concerning employees, Cathay Pacific shed 5,900 jobs and shut down its regional airline Cathay Dragon. Those employees who are still working for the airline, including pilots and cabin crew, all had to agree to significant cuts in their pay to retain their jobs.
Cathay Pacific has delayed 777X deliveries
Before the coronavirus crisis, Cathay Pacific had intended to make the new Boeing 777X its flagship aircraft. The Hong Kong-focused airline had 21 777X orders with the Seattle planemaker slated for delivery starting in 2021. Because of the medical emergency, the delivery of the jets has been postponed until 2025 and beyond.
Cutting some of its loss, making routes sounds like a prudent thing to do and is probably necessary given the current climate.
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